Treena Mielke

Treena Mielke

Childhood memories: Church, school and skating rink

The tiny insignificant dot on the map town that I grew up in boasted three significant landmarks.

The church. The school. The skating rink.

As I flip through the pages of the history book in my mind, it seems those three things made up the pillars of my childhood.

It was no secret that my dad loved that new show, Bonanza, which hit the screen of our little black and white TV with all the romance, adventure and excitement befitting a western type series of the day. The show came on at 9 p.m. and the evening service of that little white clapboard church across the road from where we lived started at 8 p.m.

Somehow, he managed to make it to both.

Consequently, so did I.

I smile as I remember.

And then there was the school.

I walked back and forth to school and contrary to popular belief it was not uphill both ways, nor was it miles away.

But I do remember days when it seemed like the school was a million miles away and I would trudge far behind my brother, our footsteps quickly disappearing in the swirly snow.

“Keep moving or you’ll freeze,” he yelled back at me. And so, I did. I kept moving and I’m here to tell the tale, so I guess didn’t freeze.

For me, the black and white chalkboard days of elementary school were simple and good. I knew that most of the other kids had the one thing that I wished I had, but didn’t, so, along with my ABCs, I learned to face life without that one thing.

And I also learned that growing up without a mom does have certain advantages.

People, even strangers, are kind to you. They pat you on the head and their eyes are full of sympathy, even if you don’t have any visible scrapes or scars from falling off your bike.

Even teachers were nice to me, even though I was left-handed and prone to daydreaming.

Anyway, I had brothers. And I liked them. A lot, actually. I followed them around hoping they would play catch with me or take me skating which they usually did.

Which brings us to the skating rink.

The skating rink was across the road from the school and on the same side as the church. Actually, there was more than one street in our tiny hamlet, but this was main street and boasted all the action. There was also a store and a post office on this street, so, at least according to my childhood definition of the word, it was busy.

In the winter white landscape of my childhood, I see all these tiny dots of moving figures. That would be us at the skating rink because we hung out there a lot. Everybody did. We even had a hockey team. They were called the Condor Comets. My brothers all played on that team and in my mind, they were the best players that ever laced up a pair of skates. I remember sitting on a snowbank watching them, my breath making frozen rings in the night air. It was so cold, so very cold, but I couldn’t imagine even wanting to be anywhere else.

Last Sunday, my husband and I sat in a heated arena and watched, with a great deal of pride, one of our grandsons play his first game of the season.

“Are you sure you want to drive all the way to Rocky,” my daughter asked me. “He will have lots of games all year.”

I think back to the days of my childhood, and I smile. Once again, I see the moving figures on the ice, like in one of those board hockey games. I hear that ping of the puck as it hits the boards; a slap shot that didn’t quite make it between the goal posts. I see the players line up for the face off and I hear the puck drop.

“Really, I said, “there’s no place I’d rather be.”

And I meant it!

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.